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Washington Post: Laughingstocks and Let's Make a Deal!; Update: "Salons" shut down

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 2, 2009 11:29 AM

Ouch, my sides hurt from laughing.

The Washington Post says its newsroom didn’t know about the pimp deal its business/marketing side was making. The flyer advertising pay-per-view meetings with Washington Post reporters and editors and Obama officials wasn’t properly “vetted,” the paper tells Politico.

Uh-huh:

Post spokesperson Kris Coratti has now sent the following statement to POLITICO:

The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company’s vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers.

The statement goes on to say that WaPo is still interested in convening the conferences and charging admission while “maintaining journalistic integrity.”

So: We are supposed to believe that WaPo chief and publisher Katharine Weymouth did not know that her business division was planning to use her home to hold lucrative salons cashing in on her connections and and celebrity.

Ouch, stop, stop. Sides. Splitting.

Weymouth recently appeared on a panel on how to save journalism:

“At any given moment, there is a panel taking place somewhere in the world discussing the future of journalism,” Aspen Institute president and longtime journalist Walter Isaacson said at the end of Tuesday night’s panel discussion titled, “What’s the News Worth to You?”

Isaacson’s panel at the Institute’s Ideas Festival in Colorado was just the latest example of such a discussion and featured Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, ABC News’s David Westin, Bloomberg L.P.’s Norman Pearlstine, Time’s Josh Tyrangiel and Journalism Online’s Steven Brill.

As is usually the case with such discussions, the group didn’t break any serious ground in determining how to save a troubled journalism industry. In fact, many had to admit that they had no idea what to do.

“We will look at anything and are taking a wait-and-see approach,” said Weymouth. “We think about a ton of things. Everything is open.” When asked whether print papers will always be around, Weymouth said, “I don’t know. I don’t predict. Nobody knows.”

“Everything is open” — including her dining and living rooms!

On Twitter, folks on both the left and right are having a field day proposing their own #WaPodeals:

sarahburris: RT @mbrownerhamlin: For only $1,500, the Washington Post will review your restaurant and say the soufflé didn’t collapse #WaPoDeals

drjjoyner: RT @TeresaKopec: For $10,000 George Will will wear jeans for a day. #WapoDeals

***

Update: WaPo climbs down. The “salons” are closed:

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth today canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered lobbyists access to Obama administration officials, members of Congress and Post journalists in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

“Absolutely, I’m disappointed,” Weymouth, the chief executive of Washington Post Media, said in an interview. “This should never have happened. The fliers got out and weren’t vetted. They didn’t represent at all what we were attempting to do. We’re not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom.”

Moments earlier, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said in a separate interview that he was “appalled” by the plan and had insisted before the cancellation that the newsroom would not participate.

“It suggests that access to Washington Post journalists was available for purchase,” Brauchli said. The proposal “promises we would suspend our usual skeptical questioning because it appears to offer, in exchange for sponsorships, the good name of The Washington Post.

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